The difference between a major car service and a minor service

Making sure that your car gets serviced regularly and on time will keep your car running smoothly and fuel efficiently. Depending on how many kilometres on your car, you might require a minor or major car service. Besides price, the main difference between these two types of services is the amount of time and parts required.

When to service your car varies between manufacturers, but as a general guideline, minor car services are usually carried out every 10,000 to 15,000 kilometres, and major car services usually at around 30,000 to 45,000 kilometres. (Consult your car manual to confirm the specific servicing requirements for your vehicle.) Most modern cars have a service light on the dashboard that let you know when a service is due.

Minor services typically include a comprehensive vehicle system and diagnostics check, oil and oil filter change; checking all fluid levels, filter conditions, tubes and hoses for leaks; fan belt and brake pad inspection. The service will also include checking all lights and tyre pressure.

“A major car service is the most comprehensive type of car service, with a full inspection of the vehicle,” explains Johnny Pretorius, Sales Director at MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions and car insurance options. 

It includes the outside of the vehicle, hinges and latches, and the timing belt. It usually involves spark plugs and filters; replacing transmission and differential oils; and checking brake and clutch fluid. This is also when wheel bearing grease will be checked and replaced if necessary.

“These are just some of the items that would be covered in a major car service as the technician works through a comprehensive checklist that ensures your car is inspected from top to bottom. If the technician detects any problems during the service, you should receive a quote for any additional work that might be required,” advises Pretorius.

In this tough financial climate, cash-strapped motorists might be tempted to skip car services, but Pretorius says this could be a costly mistake in the long run. “A car consists of complex systems that need regular maintenance to keep the vehicle in good roadworthy condition. When you service your car as per the manufacturer’s recommendations, the car is more fuel efficient, and you minimise the risk of it breaking down and incurring unexpected repair bills. As the saying goes, take care of your car in the garage and the car will take care of you on the road.”

If you miss out on any services, your car’s warranty could become invalid. Keep a close eye on the recommended time frame or kilometres between car services.

Pretorius points out that a car with a full service record is often more valuable than a car without one, because it shows the overall condition of the vehicle, as well as who did the work and when the work was carried out. A service history will also show if the car has received any recalls or if any warranty or major repair work was required.

“A good car service plan will help you service your car on time. Car servicing can be expensive, but with a service plan you can budget for this cost with easy monthly payments. There are different Service Plan products available in the market and the benefits may differ slightly from product to product, so it is best to shop around. MotorHappy agents are trained to assist motorists in choosing the best plan for their budget and requirements,” he concludes.